Seductive Scoundrels, Book 9
Wicked Earls’ Club, Book 21
’Tis the season to be wicked…
When a woman desperate for a job saves the life of an earl…
… both of their plans for the future are thwarted.
He’s eccentric and society-shy…
There’s no polite way to describe Ansley, Earl of Scarborough’s obsession with schedules and inflexible routines. Unfortunately, he’s also in need of a wife, which forces him squarely in the midst of the society he can scarcely function within. If only he dared to ignore the haut ton’s censure and claim the lovely, wholly unsuitable Willow as his own.
She seeks a governess post…
Up from the country, Willow Harwood must quickly secure a governess position and save enough money to return to America. Only, her plans are foiled when she rushes to the rescue of a devastatingly handsome earl in the process of being robbed. Though he’s far above her station, she can’t fight the irrepressible attraction she feels toward him.
Neither is prepared for the upheaval to their lives when she reluctantly accepts his offer of employment…as his housekeeper. Nor can either predict the mayhem that follows when a lord who disdains society and a country miss with no experience plan a haut ton Christmastide gathering.
This charming Regency holiday historical by a USA Today bestselling author will make you smile, laugh, and sigh with contentment as you witness the sweet and tender love growing between Ansley and Willow.
If you enjoy reading entertaining Christmas, class difference, strong heroine, and lovable rogue stories with a dash of romantic humor and heartwarming emotion, then you’ll adore Collette Cameron’s enthralling WICKED EARLS’ CLUB SERIES. Buy EARL OF SCARBOROUGH and settle into your favorite reading nook for a page-turning escape into a Regency world adventure you can’t put down.
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See What readers are saying!
“…this goes on my shelf as one of my very favorite books – certainly one that I will read over and over again.” ★★★★★~S.K.C.
“I thoroughly loved this story!!!!!” ★★★★★~Debbie
“He’s a little bit OCD, sticks to a strict regimen, sarcastic, socially awkward, introverted, enigmatic, has a pet rock of sorts, has a nervous tic, and…I love him…a beautiful story!” ★★★★★~Kristi
“What a fantastic book!…Collette Cameron never disappoints with her entertaining books & wonderful characters.” ★★★★★~Lana
“Ansley is everyone’s idea of the perfect man, which is saying a lot, you cannot help but love him.”★★★★★ ~Maxine
“A Christmas tale to fall in love with!” ★★★★★~ Shelly
This is one of those books that I will read over and over again. ★★★★★~Kat
A lovely and delightful read, perfect for the season.” ★★★★★ ~Elodie
“I haven’t enjoyed reading a book such as this in a long time.” ★★★★★-Lesia
Wicked Earls’ Club, London England
Bored. Bored. Bored.
Ansley Twistleton, the Earl of Scarborough, was bored. Out of his mind with ennui. Furthermore, he had absolutely no bloody idea whatsoever about how to remedy the situation. This discontentment. This restlessness. This new, entirely irksome, wholly vexing dissatisfaction. It made him edgy and irritable.
As was his habit, he analyzed his feelings logically and dispassionately. To a degree, he’d brought this state of malaise on himself. A man of rigid schedules and habits, nothing unexpected or exciting ever happened to him. That was precisely how he preferred his well-ordered, predictable life.
Drumming his fingertips atop his thigh, he clamped his back teeth together, pondering the exasperating irregularity.
Why now? Why, after years of consistency, was he bored?
Probably, because his pursuits and interests were few.
He neither gambled nor frequented bordellos—God only knew how many men those creatures of the boudoir had serviced—nor did he racehorses. Assemblies, routs, balls, and the like were avoided like the plague or clap, as were picnics, the opera, musicals, and the theater.
Although… He’d been known to attend the latter by himself if the play consisted of something worth watching, and he made his way into his box before anyone had a chance to corner him into conversation. There was the inconvenience of having to wait until most of the other patrons had departed before he could make his escape. But on rare occasions, the performance had been entertaining enough to warrant the minor irritation.
To say he was socially awkward was as much an understatement as suggesting Caroline of Brunswick was out of favor with the portly Prince Regent, or the English had a slight partiality for tea.
Ansley’s physical fitness and athleticism could be contributed to hours spent riding, fencing, and biweekly bouts of training at No.13 Bond Street with Jackson himself. Generally, those activities required little more than an occasional one-syllable-word comment, a grunt, or a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat.
Men never felt the need to blather on just to hear their own voices. And of colossal more importance, no primping, simpering, salivating females were ever in attendance.
God help him, but like hounds on the fresh scent of blood, eligible young misses, their terrifying marriage-minded mamas, and their pernicious plotting papas had the habit of popping up at the most inopportune moments.
Much like disease-infested rats, cockroaches, or fleas.
One knew the loathsome pests lurked about in dark corners and crevices, but when one accidentally came upon one, the experience proved most alarming and unpleasant. Unlike those vermin which usually ended up dead, the giggling debutantes—God’s bones how he detested giggling—were almost certain to appear again.
And again. And again. God help him and any other unattached male possessing a title.
Fingering his glass with its remaining dram of superior cognac, he rested his head against the wingback chair’s plush crimson velvet. Legs crossed at the ankles, he stretched them before him and stared at the robust fire through half-closed eyelids.
Around him, the soft din of his fellow Wicked Earls’ Club members’ gaming, laughter, and conversations barely permeated his aura of jaded disinterest.
A wry smile kicked his lips up on one side. Wicked earls, indeed. His claims to wickedness were his cutting, sardonic tongue and wit. However, he couldn’t vouch for the other earls one way or the other. He didn’t know any of them well enough to form an opinion.
The trouble was, he decided, returning to the issue of his boredom with a slight downward slant of his mouth and a drink of the amber liquid, he eschewed most social gatherings. Consequently, he often found himself with nothing at all to do.
Until recently, that truth hadn’t bothered him. He’d even declined to seek memberships at White’s, Brooks, and Boodle’s. As select as those gentlemen clubs were, they still allowed far too many members for his comfort.
Other than the secret Wicked Earls’ Club and Bon Chance—another exclusive club and the only two places other than his country estate where he felt a degree of ease around other people—he avoided le beau monde.
Well, he didn’t willingly entertain and mingle with the haut ton.
Since coming into his title seven years ago at the tender age of one and twenty, due to the premature death of his uncle, he’d been obligated to venture out on occasion. Very rare occasions. Mostly when his mother or sister entreated him to put on a mien of civilization. And loving them as much as he did, he tried to oblige their wishes every now and again.
He suspected they were the only two people entirely aware of what an immense effort it took each time to don his public persona. For he couldn’t bear changes in his routines. Most particularly, unforeseen variations.
It rattled him in a way that was not only difficult to explain, but disconcerting and humiliating. Everything in his ordered life had a time. When he rose. Bathed. When he ate. What time he retired. When his hair was trimmed—every third Wednesday at half-past two. When he arrived at his clubs and, unsurprisingly, when he departed.
More than once, he’d wondered if he was even sane.
Surely such compulsions bordered on madness. A terrifying notion that had haunted him since his youth.
At least he wasn’t as dotty as that fellow who put on and removed his shoes five times before he’d leave his home and then checked to make sure the door was soundly locked by pushing the handle then the door itself in rapid succession four times.
No one—bloody no one—kept to habits as he did. Several times, he’d tried to ease his inflexibility and found himself a wreck. Tense. His nerves on edge. Unable to concentrate or relax. His oddity was a damn curse. Indeed, it was.
Oh, he could do it—if push came to shove. In fact, typically, no one was the wiser except those closest to him. But he preferred not to stray from routine if at all possible.
He dragged his eyes open and squinted at the white marble and gilt bronze clock. Exhaling a long breath, he levered himself upright in the chair and tossed back the remaining spirits. Time to leave. He set the glass aside, then shoved to his feet.
No one paid him much mind, which didn’t bother him in the least. He enjoyed solitude. Craved it, in fact. He’d wanted to be a scholar before inheriting the earldom—had hoped to teach Natural History and Ecclesiastical History at Oxford or Cambridge.
But earls didn’t don austere robes and become professors. A rather irritating voice also dared remind him he mightn’t have been able to stand before a hall of students and orate.
God’s teeth. His own education had been as painful as hell, and he couldn’t deny the truth. Despite his desire to teach, he lacked the wherewithal. No, that wasn’t precisely correct. He possessed the knowledge but was without the ability to adequately communicate with or instruct a room full of pupils.
Reclining against the back of his usual chair beside the window, the Earl of Alcott smoked a cigar and stared morosely into his whisky tumbler. Somber, sad even, he raised the hand with the cigar toward Ansley in a silent farewell.
He acknowledged the salute with an elevated chin. Alcott was a decent chap. In fact, it was he who suggested Ansley join the Wicked Earls’ Club.
Nonetheless, he hadn’t ventured to the club tonight for titillating conversation. Or any other night, for that matter. Not a bit of it. No, he forced himself out of his rather ostentatious Grosvenor Square house four nights a week, else he’d easily become a hermit, locked inside his comfortable home, playing the pianoforte, wasting time on billiards, and reading musty old tomes till time for bed.
Sounded like bloody bliss.
Another sardonic twist of his mouth followed his retrospection.
He rather liked the thought, truth be told. Why, he wouldn’t even be required to shave or even dress, for that matter. All his meals might be taken in his banyan.
Recalling the correspondence from his mother this morning, suggesting the names of several eligible young misses that would make “exceptionally, wonderful countesses,” the tic near his left eye began twitching in earnest. A sure indication he was more upset than his outward façade of bored-nonchalance proclaimed. One would think he’d have become accustomed to the spasms, yet deep-rooted humiliation tumbled about in his stomach.
Dearest Mama had also recommended he host a Christmastide house party this year at Fawtonbrooke Hall, his country estate. He barely suppressed a shudder of distaste.
Horror of absolutely absurd horrors.
Guests tramping all about his sanctuary from dawn to midnight or later? Required to dine with them? Entertain the throng? Converse. Dance?
Bright-eyed misses with their coy smiles and simpering manners.
Hell on earth. A fate worse than death for a man like himself.
The muscle by his eye convulsed harder, and he angled his head toward the fireplace to hide the tremor lest it draw unsolicited attention. Disgust and anger at himself that he could yet be self-conscious of his—inconvenience—jabbed his pride.
Mama simply could not accept that at eight and twenty—nine and twenty in January—he possessed as much desire to wed as he did to have all of his teeth pulled. Or be keelhauled. Tarred and feathered. Eviscerated with a hairpin. Burned at the stake. Hung by his ballocks.
A wife dragging him hither and yon, chattering like a magpie about nonsensical drivel, would drive him stark-raving mad. And what kind of a spouse would he be? Other than his title and passably good looks, he held no false illusions about his appeal or qualifications as a husband.
Or lack thereof.
In short, Ansley Cecil Huxley Twistleton, sixth Earl of Scarborough, was a stuffy, dour chap who broke into a cold sweat when in a room with more than a dozen or so people. A man who had as much skill with small talk as he did needlepoint or midwifery. A lord who’d been thrust into a life he had no more aptitude for than a hippopotamus did for ballet, or a cat for archery.
He was an oddity.
And, blast and damn, he shouldn’t care.